Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The superlatives in praise of Donal Smith have been flying around in recent times but the brilliant Boyle youngster is clearly unfazed by it all.
To cap a superb individual performance, the classy Smith scored a textbook penalty midway through the second half of Saturday’s Connacht U-21 Final to definitively end the already slim chances of an outplayed Sligo side.
It was the crucial score of the game, coming at just the right time from a Roscommon perspective. Roscommon led by six when the penalty was awarded but Sligo had a strong breeze at their backs. The penalty sealed the deal.
An estimated 3,000 spectators were present in Dr. Hyde Park on Saturday evening to witness Roscommon claim the Connacht U-21 title in some style.
Sligo matched the home side in the opening minutes but thereafter the favourites took over. The points mercilessly built up on the scoreboard and, even allowing for the strong wind, the Rossies’ 0-9 to 0-1 looked ominous. Sligo claimed a point before half-time to leave seven between the sides.
Crucially Roscommon got the first score of the second half and while Sligo kept their hopes alive –closing the gap to six – that 45th minute penalty conversion was the score which effectively ended the competitive element of this final.
Roscommon went on to produce some ‘champagne football’, with one marvellous team move not unlike a Barcelona build-up! Colin Compton – who was excellent throughout – had the honour of popping the ball over the bar after a wonderful, measured move involving several players.
This was far from just a ‘Smith Show’ as the entire compliment of Roscommon players excelled in a confident and accomplished performance. Paddy Brogan in particular led by example with a virtuoso performance in defence.
Roscommon won with more comfort than even an eight-point margin would suggest. That’s two Connacht U-21 titles in three years for the Rossies now as Roscommon’s standing at underage level continues to be enhanced.
With an All-Ireland semi-final coming up later this month, Nigel Dineen’s fine young team can dare to dream.
Issue dated: 13 April 2012
© Roscommon People